Is there anything more certain than uncertainty? It depends on the chemistry of your principles. Walter White, irrepressibly played by Bryan Cranston, is the principal character of Breaking Bad, a show about White’s descent into crime and his ascent into becoming a drug lord. Breaking Bad developed a cult following spanning five seasons.
So what does someone do when he is breaking bad? Although the show is set in the American Southwest, the term is pure southern for someone good turning into someone bad.
Who is Walter White?
At the very core of Walter White’s life is quantum fuzziness. He is a father, a husband, a chemist, a dangerously prideful man whose insecurity co-mingles with an innate need to feed his alter ego, Heisenberg.
Werner Heisenberg, a German physicist, stated back in 1927 that, for instance, if you have two complementary quantities of something, you can measure one precisely but you cannot precisely measure the other quantity.
That’s White in a nutshell. Within the man lives two men. One is tired of living the hand he’s been dealt with in his life. He’s tired of feeling he has no say in his life. The other is a rising evil just waiting for his choices to be unleashed.
For someone like White, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle means that either he or Heisenberg must be more. So Walter White’s personal universe morphs into meth kingpin Heisenberg and there’s no turning back.
How Walter White became Heisenberg
The transformation began early in season one. Mild-mannered White’s life spirals downward when he finds out he has cancer and has about two years to live.
Topping that off is that he’s not bringing in enough money to make ends meet, his wife is pregnant and his son has cerebral palsy. So what’s he to do? He befriends small-time meth dealer, Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul.
So if you just discovered that life suddenly sucked more than usual, what would be on your bucket list? In Walter White’s case, he decided that less is not more. More money. More choices. Turning a death sentence into a life sentence on his own terms. For Walt, there was no time like the present to say goodbye Mr. Chips, hello Scarface.
White throws caution to the wind, turns his RV into a rolling meth lab, and sets out with Jesse to make the big bucks cooking and dealing meth. Walt comes up with the name Heisenberg on the fly because he didn’t want his real name to be known.
As the seasons pass, we see White go from a head of hair to bald. It’s a slow transformation, but the more head we see, the more evil Heisenberg and the porkpie hat come out.
Bryan Cranston’s shaved head made him cold
White’s porkpie hat became synonymous with his descent into Heisenberg. But how it came about in the show was a matter of needing to keep warm.
Cranston wasn’t particularly fond of his bald head getting cold, so he kept asking the clothing designer to get him a hat. They finally decided to give it to him when he became his alter ego: Heisenberg. But after the series ended, Cranston didn’t keep the famous hat. It was Paul who took the hat home.
Throughout the rest of the series, Breaking Bad played out the Heisenberg uncertainty principle to its bitter end. White and Heisenberg couldn’t occupy the same space at the same time with any amount of certainty. From the series onset, White made the decision to let go of his old life, since that life was going to end anyway, it was no holds barred.
He found that brutality was easier than he thought when he killed Krazy-8 in Jesse’s basement with a bike chain and then proceeded to melt the body in the bathtub. White’s metamorphosis was a matter of feeding an ego that was starving for most of his life and taking pride in controlling the outcome of all he touched. So White had an uncertain future. Becoming Heisenberg took that away. Becoming Heisenberg fed the monster his principle of life.